Horseshoeing is a tough, skilled trade but this hardworking craftsman speaks to its rewards.

Hours spent over the hooves of horses can be backbreaking, risky work. It also takes concentration on every individual animal you work on.

"Every horse is different," Edwin Eppenauer says. "Even if every horse is trained exactly the same and two of them have the same sized feet and are shod the same, you know one thing for sure - one of them is shod wrong."

Born, June 5, 1952, in Pecos, Texas, Eppenauer ought to know. He's been at his craft a long time.

"Once, when I was in seventh grade I showed up to work with the cowboys in my area," he said. "They told me all I had to do for the entire day was shoe one horse while they went out to ply their trade.

"I finally finished by dark and we all just happened to wearily drag ourselves back about the same time. It took me 12 hours to shoe that one horse. I didn't like that job at all."

But the potential, amiable farrier kept learning and stayed with it.

When he was in high school, he shoed for the public and that "kinda" grew into working professionally at the track in Del Rio, Texas.

"Dad and granddad both shoed horses so I knew it was tough work," Eppenauer recounted. "Once I learned how, it was not as hard. That took a while. I felt I could shoe a horse pretty good. But the farrier business is something you never stop learning."

Watching a master farrier at work is fascinating as he bends back one leg at a time and firmly grasps it between his legs.

An expert study from the coronet band down (the intersection of the hairline and the hoof) is first required to diagnose just what size and fit of aluminum shoe is required.

Once the nails are driven in at a precise spot, it's on to the next hoof. He makes it look easy. It isn't.

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